The funeral is taking place today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Fr Vincent Machozi.
(Irish troops served in the Congo with the UN in the 1960s. From 1960 to 1964 some 6,000 Irish soldiers served. During that time twenty six Irish soldiers lost their lives. Since June 2001 to date small numbers of Irish Army personnel have served with the United Nations Observer Mission in Congo)
John Allen gives an account about the death of Fr. Vincent Machozi on www.cruxnow.com:
Around midnight on Sunday, a dozen armed men wearing uniforms of the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo burst into a social center called “My Beautiful Village,” located in the North Kivu region of the country bordering Rwanda and Uganda, where a meeting for peace involving traditional tribal chiefs was underway.
Their target was a Catholic priest named the Rev. Vincent Machozi, a member of a religious order known as the Augustinians of the Assumption, who operated an influential website documenting atrocities committed against his Nande people, also known as the Yira after the language they speak.
Machozi used the site to denounce what he saw as collusion among political elites, armed factions, and commercial interests in what he termed the “Balkanization” of the region in order to exploit its natural resources, especially its rich coltan* deposits. Since 2010, so much violence has been unleashed on the Yira — often in grotesque fashion, including beheadings by machetes — that activists such as Machozi have referred to it as a “genocide.”
Machozi died early Monday amid a hail of bullets, with his last words reportedly being, “Why are you killing?”
The question was mostly rhetorical, since Machozi, 51 at the time of his death, had survived seven previous attacks since his return to the country in 2012 after almost a decade of exile in the United States.
It’s also on the Vatican News website http://www.news.va/en/news/africadr-congo-assumptionist-priest-who-denounced.
Kinshasa – “Why are you killing me?” are the last words of Fr. Vincent Machozi, Assumptionist priest killed in the night of Sunday, March 20 in the village of Vitungwe-Isale, 15 km from Butembo in the Territory of Beni . As reported in “la Croix” by Fr. Emmanuel Kahindo, Vicar General of the Congregation of the Assumptionists , who is of Congolese nationality “some soldiers arrived around midnight, knocked down the doors and killed him on the spot”.
The testimonies gathered by Fr. Kahindo and benilubero.com site agree that the killers are soldiers of the Congolese armed forces . In particular benilubero.com reports that “a dozen uniformed soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, heavily armed, who were traveling in the jeep, stormed the perimeter of the center Mon Beau Village, where traditional Nande leaders had gathered to take part in a reflection on peace convened by Mwami Abdul Kalemire III” head of Basho community, on a mission in the area and host of the same convent.The soldiers immediately said that they wanted to hit the head Kalemire and Fr. Vincent. Despite the attempt of the onlookers to hide the presence of the two people targeted, the military discovered Fr. Vincent who was outside in the courtyard, and was working on his laptop. The soldiers opened fire and Fr. Vincent shouted: “Why are you killing me?”. Kalemire III was saved only because he had just left Fr. Vincent in order to take a rest.
Fr. Vincent had already been threatened with death, so much so that in 2003 he was forced to exile in the United States. This had not prevented him from becoming Chief Editor of benilubero.com. After his return to the DRC he had escaped seven bombings.Fr. Vincent had repeatedly denounced the suffering of the Nande population caused by the presence of different armed groups dedicated to the illegal exploitation of coltan in the Territory of Beni, often with the connivance of the regular army.
The priest was born in 1965. At 17 he entered the Congregation of the Assumptionists. After completing his studies in France he was ordained a priest in Angers in 1994. He taught at the seminary in Kinshasa and earned a doctorate at Boston University in conflict resolution.Also on Sunday 20 March, a priest of the Order of the Clerics Regular Minor was seriously injured in a road ambush in Katwiguru, 30 km from Rutshuru .
*Coltan is a mineral from which a rare metal, tantalum, is extracted: it’s used in almost all electronic devices, including mobile phones.